1) I’m not going to eat any carbs.
Sometime in the last decade Americans decided that carbohydrates were evil and this new year’s resolution reflects that belief. Calories are calories, whether they come from carbs, protein or fats. The trouble many Americans have is that carbs are very easy to overeat (because they are delicious). Think about it. You are probably more likely to take seconds of pasta than grilled chicken. However, carbohydrates are not to be avoided. In fact, we NEED them to provide us with energy throughout the day, especially if you work out consistently.
Why it won’t work: It is never a good idea to cut out an entire food group, especially one that provides many nutrition benefits. It’s also very unlikely to go an entire year without carbs, so you are already setting yourself up for a failure. Even if you could successfully avoid all carbs, why in the world would you want to?
What to do instead: Focus on the types of carbohydrates you are choosing. Carbs range from desserts and pasta to brown rice, beans and fruit. Be choosy with your carbohydrates and switch to those that look like the food they are supposed to be. Eat more brown rice, beans/legumes, fresh fruit, nonfat milk, and potatoes rather than pasta, cereal, cookies, cake, and white bread.
New Resolution: I’m going to eat 80-90% unprocessed carbs like brown rice, beans, fresh fruit and potatoes.
2)I’m going to drink more water.
This is a good start to an important goal, but it would also receive an incomplete if you were being graded on your resolutions. This is an easy “go-to” goal that is easy to say, and you’ve probably made this your goal in the past. There’s a reason it hasn’t worked for you yet.
Why it won’t work: There is no plan attached to your goal. Drinking more water seems like it would be a no brainer when trying to get back on track, but it’s deceivingly hard. Not only is the goal pretty vague, it’s also boring.
What to do instead: First, figure out exactly how much water YOU need. To do this, divide your weight in half and convert to ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lb, you should be drinking at least 75 ounces per day. Now that you have an exact amount to reach for, make it more fun. I tell all of my clients that have trouble drinking enough water (which is about 90% of them) to buy a new reusable bottle that you actually enjoy using. Who wants to drink out of a plastic bottle all day? Instead get a colorful, easy to use water bottle and carry it around with you all day, every day.
3)I’m not going to eat any sweets.
You probably made this goal because you overdid it over the holiday season, but in reality, you probably don’t eat cake or cookies to the extent that you may have recently. It’s not a bad idea to start thinking about how many of your daily intake comes from desserts, but to go cold turkey with any sweet may not be the right answer.
Why it won’t work: By depriving yourself completely of sweets, you’re setting yourself up for a binge by February. It’s too dramatic and you’re going to end up cranky.
What to do instead: Have a piece of dark chocolate every day. Yes, I’m telling you to eat chocolate regularly, but I’m not talking about snickers or milky way. Buy good quality dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao and have a square after dinner each night. By doing this, you are satisfying your sweet tooth without overdoing it and leaving yourself room for a treat.
4)I’m going to eat more vegetables.
Making vegetables your friend is always a good idea, but this goal is so non specific that you may eat a couple extra pieces of broccoli and then forget this was ever an idea.
Why it won’t work: There’s too much left to the imagination. While it’s a great idea to eat more vegetables to consume more vitamins and minerals, by simply saying you’ll eat “more” of them, you’re not fully committing to your new years resolution.
What to do instead: Change your goal to, “I’m going to make half of my plate vegetables at dinner at least three nights per week” Another resolution to consider if you already each vegetables regularly would to “I’m going to try a new vegetable at least one time each week for dinner.
5)I’m going to exercise every day.
Gyms are always PACKED in the beginning of January and then by early March they are usually back to their usual “regulars”. This is because exercise is another “go-to” new years resolution. Don’t be one of those people that’s no where to be found come March.
Why it won’t work: Not only is it unrealistic to say you’re going to work out every day, it’s also not a good idea. In fact, you need a rest day or two to let your body recover and build muscle.
What to do instead: If you haven’t been working out at all, start small. Maybe your goal should simply be “I’m going to work out twice per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” If you’re currently working out, maybe instead of adding extra days, you’re better off changing up your workout. Work smart, not hard. For example, if you’ve been doing bootcamp 5 days each week for all of 2015, the answer shouldn’t be to increase to 7 days per week, it should be to get more repetitions at each station than you have been doing!